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New Doctor of Medical Science: Early blood tests can reveal Down’s syndrome

Niels Tørring is a biochemist and newly qualified Doctor of Medical Science (DMSc) at Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital. In his higher doctoral dissertation, he investigated whether blood samples taken earlier in the pregnancy can make a difference with regard to detecting Down's syndrome in the foetus. The conclusion is unambiguous.

Bringing forward the blood tests, which pregnant women normally undergo so they are taken during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, would mean that medical doctors could more precisely assess the risk of a foetus having Down’s syndrome. Fewer parents would then be told that the risk is very small, but still give birth to a child with Down’s syndrome. And there would also be greater certainty behind an assessment when a pregnant woman is told that the risk is high.

This means that the early blood samples can reduce the number of unnecessary interventions such as chorionic villus sampling and amniocentesis – and thus reduce the risk of miscarriages. Also, the woman will be able to make a decision about a possible termination due to Down’s syndrome earlier in the pregnancy.


Niels Tørring’s study concludes that ’detection certainty’ is significantly higher for blood tests taken within the first ten weeks of pregnancy. He is therefore hopeful that the research results will lead to changes in practice with respect to the guidelines and recommendations for the monitoring of pregnancies that both Danish and some foreign healthcare services follow.


Clinical Associate Professor, DMSC & PhD Niels Tørring
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
Aarhus University Hospital - Blood Bank and Immunology
Mobile: (+45) 40 46 57 10
Email: nto@clin.au.dk